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Bible Commentaries

John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible
Psalms 90

 

 

Verses 1-17

The title of this Ps. (A Prayer of Moses the man of God) ascribes it to Moses, but several considerations have been pointed out which suggest a later date for its composition. The average length of life in the time of Moses is supposed to have been greater than that mentioned in Psalms 90:10 (Deuteronomy 34:7; Joshua 24:29). Israel's national life seems not to be just beginning, but to have lasted already for many generations (Psalms 90:1). The recent past has been a time of calamity rather than of deliverance (Psalms 90:15). The Ps. contains resemblances to the book of Deuteronomy, which is now generally regarded as much later than the time of Moses, and these resemblances may have suggested the title. At the same time, there is much in the Ps. Which is consistent with the title, and some scholars still maintain its Mosaic authorship. If not written by Moses it may most probably be assigned to the exile. The Ps. contrasts the eternity of God with the transience of human life (Psalms 90:1-6), traces the brevity and troublousness of man's existence to God's displeasure with sin (Psalms 90:7-12), and ends with a prayer for God's forgiveness and favour (Psalms 90:13-17). It is appropriately used in the Burial Service.

1. See Deuteronomy 32:7.

2. Mountains] see Deuteronomy 33:15.

3. Return] to dust (Genesis 3:19).

4. A watch in the night] of which the sleeper is unconscious. There were three night-watches among the Israelites (Lamentations 2:19; Judges 7:19; 1 Samuel 11:11).

5. They are as a sleep] or, 'they fall asleep' in death.

9. Spend] RV 'bring to an end.'

As a tale that is told] RM 'as a sigh,' a breath.

10. Their strength] RV 'their pride.'

11b. RV 'and thy wrath according to the fear that is due unto thee? 'Who understands Thine anger against sin so as to give Thee fitting and holy reverence?

12. Apply.. wisdom] RV 'get us an heart of wisdom': see Deuteronomy 5:29; Deuteronomy 32:29.

13. Repent] see Deuteronomy 32:36.

14. Early] RV 'in the morning.'

15. According to] i.e. in proportion to.

17. The work of our hands] The phrase occurs in Deuteronomy seven times.


Verses 1-48


Book 4

The Pss. in this book, as in that which follows, are mostly of comparatively late date, and suitable for use in the worship of the sanctuary.

The two books seem to have been conjoined at one time, and to have formed the third great division of the Psalter. In the 17 Pss. of Book 4 several smaller groups or collections are to be distinguished. Psalms 93, 95-100 are called the 'theocratic' Pss., because they celebrate God as King, finding in the restoration of Israel from Babylon the evidence of His rule over the world. These Pss. are probably to be dated soon after that event, when it was still the one thought in men's minds. Psalms 90, 91, 94, 102 probably belong to the exile, as their language suggests such a time of national humiliation and sorrow. Psalms 103, 104 go together, and are probably by one author, who belonged to the period of the return. Psalms 105, 106 form a pair of about the same date. The whole book is 'Jehovistic' in its use of the divine name.

The Pss. of the fourth book may be classified thus, the divisions necessarily overlapping one another: (a) Penitential Psalms 90, 91, 94, 102; (b) Pss. of Thanksgiving, 92, 93, 95-100, 103-106; (c) National Psalms , 94, 97, 99, 102, 105, 106; (d) Historical Psalms , 105, 106; (e) a Gnomic Psalms , 101.

Most of the Pss. in this book are anonymous, but Psalms 101, 103 are ascribed by their titles to David. LXX, however, also gives as Davidic Psalms 91, 93-99, 101, 103, 104.

There are definite references to the Temple worship in several of these Pss., indicating that the sacred bunding was restored to permit of the sacrifices being offered and public worship performed. The musical service was rendered with instrumental accompaniments (Psalms 98:5-6); the people were called upon to join in praise (Psalms 95:1; Psalms 96:1; Psalms 98:1, Psalms 98:4) and kneel in prayer (Psalms 95:6); offerings were to be made in the courts of he Temple (Psalms 96:8).

The Messianic hope appears in this book in the form of an expectation of Jehovah's coming in judgment. This was strengthened, if not wholly suggested, by the restoration from captivity, in which the pious Israelites saw the beginning of that coming. The people were led to look for a still greater day when their enemies would be finally overthrown, and the faith of those, who had trusted in God would be completely justified (see Psalms 96-98).

 


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Bibliography Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Psalms 90:4". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcb/psalms-90.html. 1909.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, May 26th, 2020
the Seventh Week after Easter
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